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Open AccessArticle

Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy—An Emerging Analytical Tool for Mineral Exploration

1
Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
2
Natural Resources Canada, Geological Survey of Canada, 601 Booth Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E8, Canada
3
School of the Environment, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON N9B 3P4, Canada
4
Corescan Pty Ltd., Suite 1900, 1055 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, Canada
5
SciAps Inc., 7 Constitution Way, Woburn, MA 01801, USA
6
Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University, West Haven, CT 06516, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2019, 9(12), 718; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9120718
Received: 22 October 2019 / Revised: 11 November 2019 / Accepted: 13 November 2019 / Published: 20 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Methods and Applications for Mineral Exploration)
The mineral exploration industry requires new methods and tools to address the challenges of declining mineral reserves and increasing discovery costs. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) represents an emerging geochemical tool for mineral exploration that can provide rapid, in situ, compositional analysis and high-resolution imaging in both laboratory and field and settings. We demonstrate through a review of previously published research and our new results how LIBS can be applied to qualitative element detection for geochemical fingerprinting, sample classification, and discrimination, as well as quantitative geochemical analysis, rock characterization by grain size analysis, and in situ geochemical imaging. LIBS can detect elements with low atomic number (i.e., light elements), some of which are important pathfinder elements for mineral exploration and/or are classified as critical commodities for emerging green technologies. LIBS data can be acquired in situ, facilitating the interpretation of geochemical data in a mineralogical context, which is important for unraveling the complex geological history of most ore systems. LIBS technology is available as a handheld analyzer, thus providing a field capability to acquire low-cost geochemical analyses in real time. As a consequence, LIBS has wide potential to be utilized in mineral exploration, prospect evaluation, and deposit exploitation quality control. LIBS is ideally suited for field exploration programs that would benefit from rapid chemical analysis under ambient environmental conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; LIBS; geochemical exploration; geochemical fingerprinting; micro-imaging; grain size analysis; mineral texture laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; LIBS; geochemical exploration; geochemical fingerprinting; micro-imaging; grain size analysis; mineral texture
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MDPI and ACS Style

Harmon, R.S.; Lawley, C.J.; Watts, J.; Harraden, C.L.; Somers, A.M.; Hark, R.R. Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy—An Emerging Analytical Tool for Mineral Exploration. Minerals 2019, 9, 718.

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